When I retired from Queensland Newspapers in October, 2012, aged 60, I wondered how I would keep myself busy in the coming years.
I needn’t have worried because, like many old retired buggers, I now find myself as busy as ever.
The first chance to ‘do something’ in retirement was an approach from Alan Whiticker at New Holland publishers to write a book about the Brisbane Broncos’ golden era – 1992 to 2000 – when they won five premierships. My task was to interview all 38 players involved in those five games, and, as things transpired, the only players I didn’t get, were Anthony Mundine and Englishman, Harvey Howard.
The book – ‘Bennett’s Broncos’ – was released in 2014, and sold reasonably well.
Top rugby league coach, Don Gailer, on hearing of my retirement, asked me to MC Beer and Beef Club lunches. My first lunch was held at the Victoria Park Golf Course, where I interviewed former Test cricketer, Ian Healy. That was 2014.
Since then, I have interviewed the likes of rugby league stars, Glenn Lazarus and Billy Moore; Olympian, Natalie Cook; surf life-saving stalwarts, Ron Rankin and Danny Hoyland; Australian rules star, Alastair Lynch; Pinata Farms managing director, Gavin Scurr; Media men, John McCoy, Jim Tucker and Trad McLean; Titans’ Sheds owner, Reeve Kruck and Australian Rowing stalwart, Ray Ebert. There have been speakers out of left field, such as fire ants expert, Dr Pam Swepson and police corruption whistle blower, Domenico Cacciola.
Reeve Kruck and Ray Ebert enjoyed their lunches so much, they became club members.
The most amazing lunch saw one of the Broncos’ founding fathers, Gary Balkin turn-up as guest speaker – on June 8, 2018 at Customs House – even though he was in palliative care with pancreatic cancer. Queensland State of Origin coach, Kevin Walters supported Gary at the lunch and finished his speech for him. Gary felt a sense of obligation to close friend, Marion Webb, who is secretary of the Beer and Beef Club.
The next Beer and Beef Club Lunch will be held (Covid permitting) at the Morrison Hotel, South Brisbane next Friday, October 8, and it will be my task to interview former Australian rules star, Richard Champion, who has his own media company, and recently interviewed Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy (at St Peter’s College, Indooroopilly) just as I did, at a Men of League function at Club Pine Rivers a few days later.
‘Champs’ and I used to butt heads during our time on Radio TAB’s morning sports show, and our rivalry re., our respective footy codes, was lapped up by the listeners.
The point of this story is to effectively give the Brisbane Beer and Beef club a plug. It is reaching out for new members at a time when Covid has hit the hospitality sector hard.
Those who might be interested can contact the club by email – firstname.lastname@example.org – for further information, and perhaps a seat at the Morrison.
On becoming a member, the lunch cost is $70 (as opposed to $80 for a guest) and usually includes three courses; beer (supplied by Carlton) and wine (supplied by Andrew Peace).
Those who follow my website would be aware of the other things that keep me busy in retirement, such as my QRL History Committee and Men of League commitments, as well as family and travel.
Hope to see some of you, if not on October 8, then at future Beer and Beef Club lunches.